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What Will Authors Do To Find Gen Z Readers If They Can’t Use TikTok? The Self-Publishing News Podcast With Dan Holloway

What Will Authors Do to Find Gen Z Readers if They Can’t Use TikTok? The Self-Publishing News Podcast with Dan Holloway

In this episode of ALLi‘s Self-Publishing News Podcast, Dan Holloway explores the potential US ban on TikTok and its implications for Gen Z readers and authors who use BookTok for book marketing. Dan examines alternative platforms like Discord for author-reader connections, noting that they may not match TikTok's ability to foster new readers. This discussion is crucial given BookTok's substantial role in influencing book trends and revitalizing interest in physical books among younger readers.

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Listen to Self-Publishing News: Gen Z Readers

On the Self-Publishing News podcast, @agnieszkasshoes explores the potential US ban on TikTok and its implications for Gen Z readers and authors who use BookTok for book marketing. Click To Tweet

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About the Host

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet, and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, He competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available on Kindle.

Read the Transcripts to Self-Publishing News: Gen Z Readers

Dan Holloway: Hello and welcome to another self-publishing news broadcast from here in Oxford, where things are getting very exciting.

I'm recording this on the eve of May Day, and May Day in Oxford, as you may know if you have either been here or seen various things about our strange customs, it's celebrated by a choir of schoolboys singing from Magdalen College Tower looking out over the city at daybreak. The whole of the city will be alive tonight, and some people will be jumping off the bridge into the waters of our wonderful rivers. Other people will have noticed that sewage levels in the UK mean at the moment that jumping off bridges is not such a sensible idea.

We are also gearing up here in Oxford to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Sir Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile. We are lucky to have, as I'm sure I've mentioned before, my local gym, my local track. It's the Eatley Road track where Roger Bannister became the first person to run a four-minute mile.

So next Monday, May the 6th, the whole of Oxford will be turning out to celebrate. There will be mile events going on throughout the day, and I will be running mine along the High Street, finishing at the legendary track sometime in the morning.

I'm sure when I speak to you next week, I'll be a little more tired, but probably full of the joys of miles.

Potential TikTok Ban in the US

Anyway, the news this week seems to be largely a regulatory and legal news. Oh joy! The main thing in the news has been, I'm sure you will have seen, the signing of a bill in the US that could at some point in the future outlaw TikTok.

So, TikTok has been controversial for a long time. It's parent company ByteDance, obviously a Chinese based company, and the US/China relations have been somewhat strained, shall we say, and the US has security worries about the extent of the access of TikTok to users’ information, algorithms, and how the algorithms in particular might be used in an election year.

So, what the law actually proposes is that ByteDance basically will have, nine months to sell TikTok to a non-Chinese based company, and that comes with a further three-month extension in order to finalize the sale.

Needless to say, there will be challenges to this. It almost certainly won't happen within a year if it ever happens at all, but this is the next step.

Obviously, this is It's something that matters to us as writers because BookTok has become a huge thing.

So surveys, for example, of the habits of younger readers, there's been a lot of upbeat news about Gen Z, or Gen Z for those of you in America, readers returning to physical books and the growth of the romantasy genre as a thing, which of course it's always been, but as a thing with that particular name, and these are being put down to the influence of social media, and in particular, BookTok and BookTube.

You'll also remember that a couple of years ago, BookTok basically did a takeover at Frankfurt Book Fair. It's a big thing, influencers on TikTok sell books, there's no doubt about that. They create a passion for books, they create a passion for cultures around books, so things like the dark academia trend and aesthetic, popularity of journaling, commonplace books, all sorts of things which are essentially book related have been made more popular and have spread to younger readers thanks to TikTok.

If the US bans TikTok, then that will no longer be an avenue that is open to people based in the US. People will inevitably be starting to think about what else they can do to spread the word in that way, to find their tribe, and they'll be wondering where the people who would have found the book through BookTok will be hanging out.

That's going to be really interesting because almost certainly they're not going to be going to the places where you might expect to find your fandom. So, places like Patreon, it's unlikely they will go there.

Really interesting at the London Book Fair to hear talk about Discord. Discord is certainly a place where fans will gather, but it's more likely that is a place where people who are already fans of a certain kind of thing are going to gather, and may indeed find new authors, but it's unlikely that masses of new readers will be created there.

So, it feels like there is the potential for a new landscape to emerge or, of course, it might be that nothing happens. This is a storm in a teacup, and everyone just carries on using BookTok, and the law gets beaten down in court and there we go. Needless to say, I will keep you all updated.

US Federal Trade Commission Bans Noncompete Agreements

Other news related stories, also in the US, the FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, has voted to ban non-compete agreements. This is a really big thing. So, a non-compete agreement is the kind of thing that says, I'm entering into an agreement with a particular company to do something, for example, to write a book, to write a series of articles, to write a series of books, once I've finished with working with that company, I agree not to go and do something similar for another company.

So, the Authors Guild carried out a really interesting survey, which said, a fifth of authors had been prevented by writing a book they wanted to as a result of a non-compete agreement, and two fifths, so 40 percent, felt that they could not shop around to find the best publisher for their book because they were tied into a non-compete agreement.

This sort of feels like the music industry in the 1980s, for those of you who are old enough to remember, when artists would get locked into these ten-album deals and then they would feel like they couldn't do anything they wanted forever because they just had to keep producing albums for Sony or Warner Brothers. It feels like this is a similar sort of thing.

What this means, and the Authors Guild have welcomed this, what it means is that if you sign an agreement with a publisher to do a certain kind of book, once you're finished your commitment to that publisher, you will be free to write a similar book and then sell it to whoever you want.

So, if you write, I don't know, camping cookery books, and you write a camping cookery book for Simon & Schuster, you are then free to go and write a camping cookery book for someone else, or indeed for yourself.

It has implications for people who also want to go indie, but carry their fan base with them.

That feels like a potentially positive step.

EU Exempts Publishing Industry from New Late Payment Rules

What's less clear in terms of positivity is the European Union's exemption of the publishing industry from its new rules on late payments. So, if ever there was an exciting note on which to finish, it's European law and late payments.

So, the European Union has introduced a new set of rules, which means that transactions within business-to-business contracts have to be settled within 30-days of the transaction being enacted.

So, if I ship you some goods, you have to pay me within 30 days. If you print some books for me or print some goods for me, then I have to pay you within 30 days.

The publishing industry argued this was not going to work for the way it works because obviously we have things like returns, which means that if I ship books to a bookstore, then they're not going to know for months whether or not they've sold them, or they might want to return them to me.

So, the European Union has listened to publishers, as it tends to do in all fairness, and has said, okay, we accept that this is inimical to your business model, and we will exempt you.

I've not seen too many authors commenting on this. My first thought was in terms of our relations with publishers, we are business to business. We are contracting our work, not as a customer, but as a business provider, wouldn't it be nice if publishers had to pay royalties within a 30-day framework? That would be really cool. Within 30 days of the transactions, or the sales which generated the royalties taking place, they had to pay for those sales.

That seemed like a really good idea, that's no longer going to be something that happens.

As I say, I've not seen authors groups commenting on this. If you have, do let me know. If you have feelings about it, do let me know.

But it seems like this is one that might be good for the publishing industry, might not be quite so good for authors.

So, anyway, that's the news this week. I will be back next week with probably fewer legal wranglings, possibly something about AI, which didn't even make it this week. How about that for progress?

I will also tell you how I got on running a mile. Very short distance, a mile. But anyway, I will see you next week.

Author: Howard Lovy

Howard Lovy is an author, book editor, and journalist. He is also the Content and Communications Manager for the Alliance of Independent Authors, where he hosts and produces podcasts and keeps the blog updated. You can find more of his work at https://howardlovy.com/


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